MANCHESTER– Manchester City‘s narrow defeat Sunday against arch rival United was action packed. United went up 3-0 before half, but that wasn’t what all the commotion was about following the match. In the twelfth minute, City defender Vincent Kompany slide-tackled United winger Nani. At first glance the tackle seemed clean: Kompany’s first touch was the ball and Nani jumped to avoid an injurious collision.
Play stopped though, as referee Chris Foy administered a red card to Kompany for his two-footed slide tackle on Nani. Mancini was outraged and planned to appeal the red card. The FA has traditionally been more lenient in the past with overturning red cards, but has since tightened its policy. Teams can be further penalized for appealing a red card with a frivolous case.
According to FA regulations, red cards can only be administered if a player commits serious foul play, violent conduct, uses offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures, spits at an opponent or any other person, or denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball. And of course, if they receive two yellow cards, they are automatically red carded.
Judging by Nani’s immediate reaction of continuing play after Kompany’s challenge, one might guess that the players closest to the challenge didn’t see anything warranting a red card. Only Wayne Rooney seems to protest right away to Foy.
Since the match was so close and part of the Third Round Proper of the FA Cup, the debate over Kompany’s red card is maybe a little overstated. The lesson here is a common one from other sports facing the same problem: that the English Premier League will have more dramatic moments as officials attempt to protect players from injury while maintaining the highest level of competition for the fans.
Skip to approx. 1:00 for the play that led to Kompany’s red card.